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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Wike admits to strained relationship with Odili

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The immediate past governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, said his relationship with one of his predecessors, Peter Odili, whom he referred to as his political father has soured.

Mr Wike, now FCT minister, disclosed this while speaking with reporters in Abuja on Tuesday, Channels television reported.

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“As it is today, politically, we don’t have a good relationship. We don’t work together,” Mr Wike said, adding that “There are some political differences”.

“For me, we have finished with this stage. It does not mean that in the next stage, you will be in the same camp. No, he took a decision. I took a decision.”

Mr Wike took a swipe at the former members of the PDP presidential campaign council in Rivers state, including a former minister of Transportation, Abiye Sekibo, former national chairperson of the PDP, Uche Secondus, and a former federal lawmaker, Austin Opara.

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Members of the committee, while declaring support for President Bola Tinubu and Governor Siminalayi Fubara, last week, berated Mr Wike for allegedly insulting Mr Odili, whom they described as the “revered leader” of the state.

Mr Wike, while speaking with reporters on Tuesday, described them as “expired and irrelevant politicians”, claiming he kicked them out of the party.

The ‘Wike-Odili’ relationship

Mr Odili was the governor of Rivers from 1999 to 2007. He was succeeded by Rotimi Amaechi who governed the state from 2007 through 2015. Mr Wike took over from Mr Amaechi in 2015 and was the governor till 2023.

Mr Wike, while serving as governor, at several functions hailed Mr Odili and his wife, Mary, a retired Supreme Court judge, for helping his wife to become a judge.

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In a video shared on Facebook, Mr Wike vowed never to abandon Mr Odili even if it means giving up his presidential ambition.

“Any day that I will make Dr Odili and his family cry, God don’t allow me to grow. These people suffered blackmail, everything because of people like us.

“Sir, (referring to Mr Odili,) I will never allow you and your wife to cry. I will never do it.

“Some people said I want to be president. Yes, but nobody in this country can cause me to abandon you because I want to be president. Take your president and go. I will never abandon you and your family.

“Today, I am a governor. Where would I have been but for you and your wife?” he recalled.

Mr Wike, during Mr Odili’s birthday celebration, in August 2022, described his predecessor as a “book” and a “school” for Rivers’ politicians.

“There is no standing politician today in this state from 1999 to today that he did not make him. Not one.

“There is nothing as appreciating people who have, in one way or the other, contributed to your growing. Today, we are this, we are that, because somebody was responsible for it.

“Wike is this, Wike is that? If God did not use him (referring to Mr Odili) as an instrument, it would not have been possible for me.

“For us, we have used him as school and we thank God for him for making himself available,” Mr Wike said during Mr Odili’s birthday celebration.

To further cement the relationship with Mr Odili’s family, Mr Wike while serving as governor, built a cancer hospital and named it after Mr Odili.

He also built a judiciary institute and named it after Mr Odili’s wife, Mary.

But recently in Port Harcourt, Mr Wike spoke of Mr Odili and his wife in a way that may be considered derogatory.

“I built the cancer centre (hospital) in record time by the best construction company, Julius Berger, and I named it after one man,” Mr Wike said, apparently referring to Mr Odili.

“I built the judiciary institute and I named it after one woman,” Mr Wike said, referring to Mr Odili’s wife, Mary, a remark that has triggered outrage among Rivers residents.

So, what went wrong?

A former commissioner for Water Resources in Rivers State and a member of Rivers elders and leaders forum, David Briggs in a video posted on Facebook, described Mr Wike’s remark against Mr Odili as “unfortunate”.

Mr Briggs said Mr Wike is angry because Mr Odili refused to support the impeachment plot against Governor Siminalayi Fubara by Pro-Wike lawmakers.

“It is unfortunate for Mr Wike to describe Mr Odili as ‘one man’. It is very disturbing that Mr Wike would today describe Justice Odili as ‘one woman’. I want to put the record very clear and I don’t need to consult Mr Odili to defend what I know is the truth.”

Mr Briggs said the projects named after the former governor and his wife were built from taxpayer’s money, and not from Mr Wike’s pocket.

“Rather the reverse is the case. Mr Odili built a university and named part of it to a son whom he thinks is worthy and reasonable.

“But let me state for the purpose of record. What is Mr Odili’s offence on the side of Mr Wike?

“Mr Wike planned to destabilise Rivers State by planning an impeachment of the present governor of the state and Felix Obuah (a former PDP chairperson in Rivers) to go and recruit Mr Odili to be part of that plan.

“Mr Obuah went to Mr Odili’s house in an attempt to recruit him to be part of it, but Mr Odili rejected it and said ‘You just came to tell me to be part of you, (and) not to mediate if there is any misunderstanding between the present governor and Mr Wike. Please, I will not be part of it. Rather, let me call Mr Wike’.

Mr Briggs said, Mr Odili called Mr Wike and begged him not to impeach Mr Fubara that he (Mr Wike) brought him. He said the FCT minister promised Mr Odili that he would see him by the weekend in Port Harcourt.

“Mr Wike came and executed his impeachment that failed very woefully. Mr Odili intervened but Mr Wike pretended as if he had a network problem and turned off his phone and promised to call back Mr Odili.

“That is the offence Mr Odili committed before Mr Wike,” Mr Briggs said.

Fubara-Wike feud

Mr Wike helped Mr Fubara to become governor of Rivers, but the duo parted ways because of the minister’s ambition to control the politics and governance in the state.

The crisis deteriorated, prompting President Bola Tinubu to midwife a controversial peace deal between Messrs Wike and Fubara, after the seats of 27 pro-Wike lawmakers in the Rivers House of Assembly were declared vacant following their defection to the APC.

But despite the peace deal, the feud between the two former allies – Mr Wike and Fubara – has persisted.

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